Report: Wolves 3-3 Bristol City
Tuesday, September 12th 2017
City stood toe to toe with one of the promotion favourites Wolves to earn a valuable point in a six-goal thriller at Molineux.
Leo Bonatini and Diego Jota twice put the hosts in front, cancelled out on each occasion by Aden Flint and Famara Diedhiou’s penalty.
With eight minutes to play Bobby Reid nudged in his sixth goal of the campaign, but almost instantly Wolves responded through their skipper Danny Batth’s pinpoint header.
On the back of the impressive 1-0 win at Reading three days earlier, another point on the board from a tough away venue – where City historically struggle – can be seen as a huge positive for Lee Johnson’s side.
CHANGES IN PERSONNEL
The head coach opted to make two changes to his side following the Madejski Stadium success, mainly to add a freshness to the starting XI.
Skipper Bailey Wright was recalled at right-back in place of Zak Vyner, while West Brom loanee Jonathan Leko was handed his first start, replacing Jamie Paterson on the left flank.
The home team flirted with City’s goal early on, with Ruben Neves shooting wide from distance and Roderick Miranda scooping a loose ball from a corner kick high over the top.
Matt Doherty finished off a well-worked passing move on 11 minutes, sending the ball under Frank Fielding and into the net, only for the offside flag to halt home celebrations.
Wolves continued their promising start, with tricky Ivan Cavaleiro winning a free kick from the sliding Wright and Neves – the hosts’ big money summer signing from Porto – sending the resultant set-piece swerving narrowly over the top.
City’s first real attack with any menace had to wait until the 25th minute and it was all about the dancing feet of Leko. Booed by home supporters unable to forget his Baggies roots, the attacker squeezed between two defenders to dart into the penalty area and only Batth’s intervention stopped the youngster from testing John Ruddy.
Moments later, however, Wolves had the breakthrough. Alfred N’Diaye chased a lost cause into the penalty area and centred a dangerous cross to Ruben Vinagre at the back post. The left-back fired instinctively towards goal and Bonatini was on hand to poke it in from just yards out.
Vinagre very nearly had another assist to his name six minutes before half-time, albeit for City. The Portuguese defender failed to control a simple ball into his feet and Josh Brownhill pounced on the mistake, powering a shot goalwards but ultimately wide of the mark.
Just 90 seconds of the first half remained when City did forge an equaliser, and it arrived at the end of a succession of corners.
The decisive flag kick was swung into the box by Callum O’Dowda, with Wright eventually receiving it at the back post after the home side muddled several chances to clear. The Australian international spun a shot towards goal which Flint, potentially inadvertently, deflected past Ruddy into the net.
Wolves attempted an instant response as Jota sent an ambitious volley arrowing towards goal from distance, which required an impressive parried save from Fielding. Bonatini tried to force in the rebound but he slammed the ball into the side-netting under pressure.
Fresh from the interval, Neves took aim with another free kick, brought about by Brownhill’s cynical trip on Cavaleiro. This time the midfielder hit the target with his attempt but Fielding was down smartly to divert the ball around his upright.
Cavaleiro continued as a key outlet for Wolves, with his corners causing all sorts of issues for City’s defence, whilst a driven attempt required goalscorer Flint to do his job at the other end, heading away the goalbound piledriver.
When Calaveiro found room in behind Bryan to break clear on goal, the forward skipped around the onrushing Fielding but found the angle acute. Fortunately for City, Baker had rushed back to clear from the line as the Portuguese star wriggled his shot on target.
It was no surprise then that Calaveiro played a key part in Wolves going back in front. His terrific corner from the right was flicked on by Bonatini and Jota bundled home in amongst a cluster of bodies.
DIEDHIOU SPOT ON
Any fears of City crumbling at that point were quickly wiped away by a penalty decision that infuriated the home team. O’Dowda’s cross was blocked by the outstretched arm of Vinagre, leading referee Steve Martin to point to the spot, albeit after a prolonged period of ponder.
Diedhiou stepped up amongst all the protestations and coolly sent Ruddy the wrong way to level the scores once more.
Things were heating up on the pitch as well as off it. A clash in the box between Batth and Wright led to tempers flaring on the touchline. Referee Martin called together the two managers in a bid to calm things down.
Changes followed; Matty Taylor being introduced for Leko, with Wolves responding by making a double switch – Bright Enobakhare and Romain Saiss coming on in place of Miranda and Cavaleiro.
But not before the home team had been denied by the crossbar. Bonatini’s clever chested pass inside the box dropped perfectly for Jota to fire goalwards and rattle the frame of the goal with Fielding beaten.
DREAMLAND AND DESPAIR
It proved an important lifeline for City, who went in front with eight minutes to go.
Baker rose highest in the box to head Jamie Paterson's corner goalwards and Taylor flicked the ball against the upright. Unlike the hosts, City were first to the rebound, notably top scorer Reid, who proved his poacher instincts once more to bundle home.
But any fans dreaming of a first win at Molineux for 86 years were quickly forced into a rethink.
Fielding had done brilliantly to keep out Bonatini’s clipped shot at the near post but from substitute Ben Marshall’s resultant corner kick, Batth was unchallenged as he guided a header back across goal and inside the far post.
It was a game neither side deserved to lose, although City came closest to a winner when Joe Bryan’s 30-yard screamer forced Ruddy to tip over his own crossbar.